Meet the Maker: Balam Soto

Meet Balam Soto, a new media artist and maker bringing his digital creations to the forefront!

GHMF:  Your project is called “Exp.Inst.X Version3.” Can you explain what that is?

Soto:  “Exp.Inst.X Version3” is an interactive artwork that I designed, programmed and built independently. It is an experimental instrument that incorporates projection and sound generated by a wireless box made of wood, Plexiglas, electronic components and custom touch sensors. By touching the box at various points, patrons create different sounds. These sounds then generate changes in the projection.

It is an analysis of the social and cultural adoption of a tangible user interface. Globally, touch devices are increasingly common; people understand how to use them. “Exp.inst.X” analyses this new technology and makes use of this new common understanding to fuse sound and visuals into real-time interactivity.Soto interview photo

“Version 3” refers to the technical version of this artwork. This version incorporates additional sound inputs, pitch and bending notes, and scale control. Patrons can also choose between three different software instruments to create their own sonic landscape. It uses touch technologies to fuse sound and visuals into real-time interactivity.

The “X” refers to the graphics in the artwork. The video that I’ve shared is called “Exp.Inst.Rain” – version 3 with “Rain” graphics.

GHMF: You’ve been featured in publications about your arduino based projects. Makezine even highlighted you instrument last month. What inspired you to start working on these types of projects?

Soto: My love for art and digital technologies! As an artist I love to explore and adventure down new roads. Adventure has been in my core since I lived in my native Guatemala, where I was an archeology student and traveled often to the mountains and rainforest.

Soto interview photo2Years ago, I was an artist, a painter, in one part of my life, and a technology enthusiast in another part. I thought there had to be a way to unite these two parts so I spent a full year thinking and analyzing how this would look. Through this process, I reinvented myself as a new media artist. I think that year was vital to my learning how to unite art and technology. Many people think it’s easy, but the translation of an artwork to a technical piece must have an intellectual depth that comes from introspection and analysis.

GHMF: It looks like you continue to modify your exhibit based on feedback from Maker Faire attendees. What sort of feedback are you looking for?

Soto: Clever and well-elaborated feedback– something I receive quite a bit of at Maker Faires. That’s why I find them so exciting! I love being challenged to go to the next level.

GHMF: What do you hope to do with your projects in the future?

Soto: My goal is to sell my projects.

GHMF: What do you think is the biggest misconception about makers or the maker movement?

Soto: In my opinion, one of the biggest misconceptions is that you have to be “well-educated” to do something high-tech. I have a couple years of college under my belt in archeology plus one year in learning to fix computers. In everything else, including art, I am self-taught. Soto interview photo3

GHMF: Is there anything else you would like to share about your project?

Soto: I am thinking in the near future to develop a DIY version which will be an electronic instrument kit. To see my Maker business, visit www.OpenWireLab.com.

GHMF: What is the best way for people to get in touch with you?

Soto: Check me out at www.balam.io or give me a call at 860.251.8224.

Find out more about Balam’s projects and give him a follow!

Video: https://vimeo.com/135243170

Twitter: https://twitter.com/balamsoto

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